My thoughts on local seafood purchasing are as follows. Since we live in a land-locked state, you really have to settle for good since you aren’t going to get great. For fresh- and salt- water fish, the Food City in Weber City is hands down my favorite. I know, right? But even though they have a lot of farm stock, they also have a large selection of wild caught. They also are one of the cleanest grocery fishmongers around, they know their shit, they bag AND ice, and, most importantly, their stock is always in good shape (again, for a land-locked state). Plus, WCFC is my favorite all-around grocery, in part because it is in Virginia and has a decent wine and beer selection and also because the prices are much lower and I can find most of what I need there.
Very close to 1st and tied for 2nd overall and tied for 1st for every non-fish water creature are Earth Fare and the buy-counter at Riverfront. Both have a decent quality selection – to be fair, the quality of fish is better than WCFC – but I think the prices are a little ridiculous. But for scallops, crab, lobster, etc., both of these places are great choices and the quality is very high. I won’t buy scallops at grocery stores anymore since they generally only have wet-packed and I want dry packed.* And shrimp, I want generally prefer peeled and deveined because I have already p’ed and d’ed about a million shrimp and feel I have reached a lifetime quota on that work. And at both Riverfront and Earth Fair, I know the shrimp have been VERY recently p’ed and d’ed. Don’t know when this occurred at groceries, but it tastes like a loooonnng time ago.
* “Wet-packed Scallops” v. “Dry-packed” Scallops. “Wet-packed” scallops have been packed with phosphates (an edible, non-toxic preservative). In addition to being packed in preservatives, wet-packed scallops have absorbed a bunch of water, which makes them weigh more – and cost more. And then at cooking, the absorbed water evaporates and your scallops shrink and end up a little smaller and drier that dry-packed scallops and less flavorful. Also, wet-packed scallops will not brown or caramelize like dry-packed. Furthermore, the added water does not let scallops brown properly during cooking.
Dry scallops are all wild and natural. They are not treated with any chemicals whatsoever. They are harvested directly from the ocean, shucked on deck, then immediately frozen on the boat to capture their quality. You are paying for all scallop. When cooking, they hold their size and natural moisture and will brown and caramelize properly. And, they taste better. They only draw-back is that you will generally have more sand or grit in dry-packed.
You can tell the difference by look at them – wet-packed scallops are bright snowy white; dry-packed have a natural cream color.